You and your spouse are divorcing, or you and your partner are separating; you’re worried about making sure that you have a working co-parent relationship afterwards. That is a good concern to have! That’s why you need a well-designed parenting plan in place.
A parenting plan is a binding document that outlines how both parents will be involved in the child’s life. It details how you will make important decisions for the child and how custody will be shared, among other things. So, how do you create a post-divorce parenting plan that will work for everyone? Here are 2 tips:
1. Make mutual respect a part of the plan.
You may no longer feel love and affection for your ex, but that doesn’t mean you stop treating them civilly. Speaking ill of them in the presence of your child is never a great idea. Besides compromising the child’s perception and eventual relationship with the other parent, this could amount to parental alienation. As parents, you each have a responsibility to foster your child’s relationship with the other. Disparaging your ex or fighting with them openly undermines that responsibility and hurts your child most of all. Aim for a formal agreement with your ex that you will approach each other with the respect, even when there are conflicts. That means no calling each other names or badmouthing each other to the kids. Keep all “adult matters” out of your child’s earshot as much as possible.
2. Focus on the child’s best interest
Both your relationship and divorce or separation were about you two. However, child custody is not about you. Child custody is all about what is in the best interest of the children, period. When working out a parenting plan, be sure to focus on the needs of your children, rather than your own desires. This may mean compromises or agreements that are inconvenient for you as an individual but are most flexible or beneficial for your child. The child should never be the one inconvenienced. A parenting plan that is flexible and keeps both parents involved in the children’s lives is almost always best. Demonstrate excitement for your child to spend time with their other parent to help encourage a positive environment.
Creating a healthy and steady relationship between the child and both parents is the cornerstone of a good parenting plan. If you are divorced or in the process of dissolving your marriage, or separating with children in common, find out more about how you can create a parenting plan that works.